Monday, March 19, 2007


The posts below are brief dialogue excerpts from unpublished fictional works.
Words I've converted to red are words I would delete. Blue are words I would add, or comments. Useful comments from the minions are welcome, as always. Keep in mind when commenting that the excerpts could be from well into the book; dialogue that seems confusing with no context might not have bothered you had you read everything that preceded the dialogue.


ril said...

"T" is for "Tip of the Iceberg" I'm sure.

This is very cool of you. Thanks!

McKoala said...

'U' is for 'uh oh, what have I started...'

I love this practical approach, thank you!

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Dang. Second passing - does that mean it'll be like AA and BB? Bet you didn't expect such a huge response but I love it.

One thing I've noticed more than anything else is the cutting. No unnecessary words. We all know it, but with our own work, it's hard to see it. This really reminds me to cut, cut, cut. Same thing when I sent in my NB to get what I wanted in there while staying within the word count. And I kept those cuts in the original WIP. If I didn't need it for that, I didn't need it PERIOD.

Thanks, EE.

writtenwyrdd said...

Besides trimming the fat, I can see how an editor catches one with one's assumptions down around the ol' ankles. It's very easy for a writer to overlook 1) leaving out important information the reader needs for understanding; 2) vague references such as pronouns; 3) missing tag lines; and 4) the incredible choking point of the logic error.

Thanks EE, this has been very educational.

Now go to sleep, because you updated at 12:30am and I know you have to work tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Uh, in my neck of the woods it's Sunday the 18th. Why does the header of this post read Monday the 19th? Is EE in a time warp somewhere? Or has he just crossed the international date line???

Evil Editor said...

This is EE's way of keeping this post above the dialogues as I post them, so readers just arriving know what's going on.

Anonymous said...

Watch your back -- you just got mentioned on Miss Snark's site.

You might need a bigger alphabet.

Robin S. said...

Thanks so much for doing this.

And on your weekend, or what was SUPPOSED to be your weekend, anyway.

I'm wondering what the submission count is up to now.

Evil Editor said...

It runs about halfway through the second alphabet. Submissions are closed, so they should all be done by Monday.

Wonderwood said...

I'm glad I got mine in under the deadline. It pays to be a regular around here.

Dave said...

What did you see, read, experience as the most common problem with dialog.
That might make an intersting summary post.

Robin S. said...

Hi EE -

I've read through your comments and paid attention to your changes on the submitted dialogues.

I noticed that you almost always remove the word "that" when editing. Is that considered a kind of "filler word" - pointless? Just checking in on this, so I can remove my own "thats" if I should do so. Looks like the answer is almost always ye.

I also noticed that you need dialogue to be pointed in a defined direction - to introduce a character and his/her traits, to move the plot along, or to provide insight into the narrator's mind. In other words, it has to go somewhere, and in short order, to keep the reader's attention, to move the story along. No "art for art's sake" - Is that the deal?

I'm also wondering - is the editing you did with the dialogues you approved of at about the level you'd expect to do with a work you had acquired? Is this level of work (on your part) typical, even if you liked something enough to take it on?

Thanks again.

Shannon said...


Due to your efforts, I have seen a marked skill increase in my writing and revising.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...


You are wonderful, and we LOVE you! This is SO helpful--


bunnygirl said...

Can we do action scenes for our next EE submission trick?

BuffySquirrel said...

Damn you, EE! You improved my novel! Do you realise how long it's going to take us to edit this book 200 words at a time?

Ahem :).

Bernita said...

Most valuable, EE.
Thank you very much.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Robin, I'm definitely no EE, but EVERYTHING in the book should move the story forward in some way, either in characterization, plot or conflict. Even sex scenes, for example. You can't toss one in because you want to or to make it fit a genre you're targetting. Every single thing has to move it forward, including dialogue.

As for the word "that": Run it through your FIND feature and each time you see it, ask yourself if the sentence works without the word "that" in it. Most of the time, it does, and so it should be removed. It strengthens the sentence, removing an unncessary word.

bunnygirl: I hope he says yes, but after this, he may need to take a break to let his mental red ink refill!

I have no doubt this exercise increased hits to his site, and hopefully that increase will help all of us here as well as sell more of his books. Wouldn't that be fabulous?